FamilyLife Today® Podcast

My One and Only Love

with Michael and Heidi O'Brien | September 7, 2011
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Anger wears many disguises. On today's broadcast, Christian recording artist Michael O'Brien, the former lead singer of NewSong, and his wife, Heidi, talk about the issues that once threatened to overtake their marriage. Find out how they found healing and renewed happiness in their 15-year marriage and how their restoration is bringing new inspiration to his music.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Anger wears many disguises. On today's broadcast, Christian recording artist Michael O'Brien, the former lead singer of NewSong, and his wife, Heidi, talk about the issues that once threatened to overtake their marriage. Find out how they found healing and renewed happiness in their 15-year marriage and how their restoration is bringing new inspiration to his music.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Anger wears many disguises.

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My One and Only Love

With Michael and Heidi O'Brien
September 07, 2011
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Bob:  Before God can begin to work in a marriage He often will begin by working in our hearts.  That was the case a few years ago when God began to work in the marriage of Michael and Heidi O’Brien.  Michael was the lead singer of the group Newsong and both he and Heidi knew something needed to change.  That’s when God went to work.

Heidi:  As I look back at what was going on in Michael’s life there was a just wave of repentance that hit him about five or six years ago.

(song) I keep seeing your face when I close my eyes

Heidi:  He just began to change.  That’s the only way I can describe it.  He just became proactive in the relationship and, oh my goodness, the healing!   Because I was being loved.  I was being cherished for the first time.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today® for Wednesday, September 7th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.

Michael and Heidi O’Brien join us today to talk about the powerful and profound work God did in their lives and in their marriage.  Stay with us.

Take me by surprise

where you get under my skin

with every point of view. 

You’re killing me or thrilling me. 

It’s sweet love.

With beautiful you.

Bob:  And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  You have had a couple of times in leading a ministry over the last three decades where you’ve had to kind of call a time out in terms of the demands on you in order to recalibrate some things at home, haven’t you?

Dennis:  I’ve actually cancelled a speaking engagement or two just because I couldn’t go do it.  I needed to trim the sails and head home.

Bob:  And you called a moratorium on some extended periods of speaking engagements so that you could make sure things at home were what they needed to be, right?

Dennis:  I’m just celebrating a year of not taking any outside speaking engagement so that Barbara and I could move into this next season we’re in with a clear head and a clear heart and have a sense of mission and purpose about our lives.

Bob:  At times that felt like a costly choice to make, didn’t it?

Dennis:  Well, yes.  But most good things in life cost you something.  The things that are free are usually worth what you paid for them. 


Dennis:  You know we’ve been talking this week with a couple who have made some costly choices of their own.  Bob, you’re a music fan.  Introduce our guests to our audience today.

Bob:  I’ll do it the way that you used to do it in the arenas, right?  Ladies and

gentlemen!  Let’s welcome Michael O’Brien!

Dennis:  Is that the way they did it?  You’ve had it done that way, right?

Michael:  Yeah, actually I have.

Dennis:  They do that?

Bob:  Oh yeah.

Michael:  They’ve done that before.

Bob:  They whip up the crowd and get then all…  Are you guys excited?  Are you excited?  Let me hear you!  Are you excited?  It’s that kind of thing.

Michael:  I’ve actually played to one person, on the front row!  And that’s no lie.  And then the guy running the sound.  There are two people in the audience.

Bob:  That was it!

Michael:  Yes.  The girl started clapping for me and my song.

Dennis:  Seriously?

Michael:  Yes.  Absolutely.

Bob:  Was the girl your wife?

Michael:  No, actually just a good fan.

Dennis:  Paid to be there, huh?  Well, first of all, Heidi, Michael, welcome to the broadcast.

Bob:  I need to do that for Heidi too.  Welcome, Heidi O’Brien!  I’m sorry; I was just doing it for your husband!

Dennis:  I just want you to know.  We’ve had a lot of guests on the broadcast over the past fifteen years.  This is a first.  Bob had never done that!  I’m kind of going, “well, there’s another one for the record book.”


You’ve been sharing your story, though, of your marriage that started, what year? 

Michael:  1989.

Dennis:  l989.  And how…

Bob:  In a divorce court before the justice of the peace, right?  And if you missed that story, you need to listen to it on our website at

Dennis:  That’s right.  The first six or seven years were rocky, tough.  Finally you hit a wall and the wall didn’t result with you tearing it down instantly.  But you began a five year process of addressing that wall. 

Heidi:  Yes.

Michael:  Yes.

Dennis:  Was there a low point where you’d have to say the ultimate wakeup call, where you felt like this was the bottom of the barrel and after that moment you began the process of climbing out?  Heidi?

Heidi:  Yes.  I would have to say even though it wasn’t a quick climb out, when I was checked into Vanderbilt Psychiatric Ward.  That was literally frightening.  There were people there who had things around their necks because they tried to slit their throats. 

I was afraid.  I was afraid at nighttime, in a room.  I had a woman beside me who was scaring me and saying certain things.  I was heavily medicated at that time.  I’d been on different medications for some of these things that I had been struggling with. 

But one thing that is just seared in my memory is when I had to sit before a panel.  The head man and different people that had interviewed me during that time.  The main man just looked at me and he said, “Mrs. O’Brien, it’s easier to be mentally ill than to be angry at your husband.”  That’s when it hit me that I had just major, major anger issues that I had stuffed for a long, long time that I needed to deal with. 

But I’ve always said when it comes to mental illness there is the spiritual and emotional.  There’s the physical element, that there is actually stuff going on with your body.  And there is the environmental.  I had a lot of things in my environment, a lot of stressors, things there were triggering.  So it’s a full circle thing.  And you have to deal with it all.

Dennis:  Heidi, did you come to a point where it was a real crossroads, where you had to make a choice to forgive Michael?  Where you released all the punishment you were taking out on him and you gave up the right of punishing him and you gave it to Christ and you forgave him?

Heidi:  Yes.  There were several events.  But my pastor says this so beautifully.  Forgiveness is a choice but it’s a force.  You make the decision to forgive because Christ forgave you.  Your emotions don’t necessarily immediately follow that. 

But you continue to make the choice to do that and you give it to the Lord and you say, “Lord, you’re going to have to heal my heart.  You’re going to have to change my heart.”  And He does.  He’s faithful!  It’s a process.  Getting into that pit was a process and getting out is a process.  It’s slow, at least for us, it was slow. 

But He is faithful.  If you will not grow weary in doing well you will reap a harvest.  I would have to say, very shortly after, once again, that hospital stay, I really knew this dream that I’ve carried forever, it’s killing me.  It’s killing my marriage.  It’s just not good.  So I let it die.  I let it go and chose to forgive and continually had to choose to forgive.

Bob:  Michael, I want to ask you about sitting on the bus between the show in Green Bay and the show in Madison or the show in Fargo and the show in wherever.  You’re travelling around from city to city.  I guess you’re calling back home to say how are things, right?  But you wife’s in the hospital or she’s now out of the hospital.  You had to feel like “am I in the right place?”  Didn’t you stop and think, “I ought to be home?” 

Michael:  Yeah, there were many times I thought I needed to be home.  I felt crippled because I didn’t know how to be home and provide for the family.  It was an eye-opening thing because as I would lead and share my testimony every night I just became more and more empty. 

I wasn’t having fun anymore.  It became a job.  It became a paycheck.  I wasn’t fulfilled.  Even though I relied on Newsong at that time to pay the bills, I just knew God had a better way for me.

Bob:  You’re on the road hundreds of nights a year.

Michael:  Literally, because we would do a 120 shows a year, plus I’d travel back and forth to Atlanta.  I’d commute.  Then you’ve got to think about making records.  I did all the song writing with Eddie.  I’d be at home but I wasn’t at home.  I had to take off and go here and there.  I’d go in the studio.  You spend thirty or forty days in the studio.  If you add it up, it’s just, it’s a sad story.

Bob:  When you look back on that and think about how connected you weren’t to your wife and your kids, does that make sense to you now?  At the time, you had to go, “This is what people in my line of work do.  They’re just disconnected and they come home from time to time and spend a little time with the family.  But, really, the job’s the thing.”

Michael:  Yeah.  When we say miracle, God began to do a miracle in our relationship to the point where…  You know, I think we looked in the dictionary recently about what the word, what’s the word, hon? 

Heidi:  “Woo.”

Michael:  To woo, to woo.  God was wooing her to me, and wooing me to her and there was this thing that was happening, the purity and all that was just so amazing to me.  We were coming up against a lot of darkness, a lot.  We were seeing the victories.

Heidi:  As I look back on what was going on in Michael’s life is there was just a wave of repentance that hit him about five, six years ago.  He just began to change.  That’s the only way I can describe it.  He just became proactive in the relationship. 

God was just changing him.  Man does not change the heart.  His heart was changing towards the heart of God and he began to start serving me and loving me the way Christ loved the church.  His focus started getting off of him and, not just onto me, but onto the children. 

He came home not saying, “Okay, serve me,” but “how can I serve?”  He began, once again, what is it that my wife finds attractive?  What does she find attractive?  And so he’s out reading these books because he knows I kind of like literature and history and intellectual things.  So he’s out trying to get stuff in his head so we can have conversation together.

Bob:  Now wait.  You didn’t read Jane Austen, did you?

Michael:  I watched Sense and Sensibility and Emma.

Bob:  Oh yeah.  

Dennis:  There you go!

Heidi:  Oh yeah.  Chick flicks!

Dennis:  You have truly stepped up!

Michael:  There is a healthy balance between that and war movies and things like that!

Bob:  What was it like for you to have your husband changing?

Heidi:  At first, I didn’t exactly know what to do with it.  I was just like, “Is this real?  What are you doing?  This feels really weird.  I’m not used to this?” 

But, when I knew it just wasn’t a phase, that it wasn’t going away, that it was safe, that I could let it in, oh my goodness!  The healing!  I was being loved.  I was being cherished for the first time.

Michael:  And that’s where I started writing these nostalgic songs, because she loved that kind of music.  I’d tried the other songs, the “hey, I’ll stick with you no matter how tough it gets” kind of songs.

Bob:  Hard driving.

Michael:  And it did not connect on any level.

Bob:  Right.

Michael:  But these songs…  I went home.  It was Mother’s Day, 2004, and I remember I had my guitar.  I’m not a guitar player but I wrote this song on the guitar in the back of the bus, came home, played this song for her.  I knew she was going to like it.  She just fell in love with it. 

So I just started writing more.  I started writing more.  And really, this record, this Something About Us record, is really the blessing of us staying together.  The very first song I played for her is called “One and Only” and that’s truly what she is to me.

Bob:  Can you play that song that you wrote on the back of the bus on the guitar?  We don’t’ have a guitar but maybe play it on the keyboard.

Michael:  Sure.

I’ve been dreaming about your face.

Getting lost and obsessed in your embrace.

Just one more kiss for me would be a tragedy if you stopped there.

It wouldn’t be fair.


I’m crying out for one more touch.

But I confess it won’t be enough.

Don’t want a sabbatical ‘cuz I’m fanatical when it comes to you.

Baby, it’s true.

Do you really know what I’m feeling?

Do you really care that you’ve stolen my heart?

I don’t really know what I’d do without you.

Only love, my one and only love.


I’ve written songs throughout the years.

To tell you darling, how I feel.

So lend me your ear, tell me dear, am I making it clear?

Every day I fall in love again.


That’s why we’ll never, no never, be just friends.

One look, I was hypnotized.  Now I’m mesmerized at the thought of you,

Baby, it’s true.

My one and only love.

Dennis:  I’m just sorry we don’t have a…

Bob: A webcam?  A video?

Dennis:  … a webcam where they could see Heidi’s face.  She was nodding and every once in a while he was looking over and winking at her.  I want you to repeat that last line for me, if you would.

Bob: Are you going to try this out on Barbara tonight?

Dennis:  I am.  I really like that.  How did that last line go?

Michael:  One look I was hypnotized.  Now I’m mesmerized at the thought of you.

Dennis:  Keep going.  I’m not going to treat you as my friend?

Michael:  Oh.  Every day I fall in love again.  That’s why we’ll never be just friends.

Dennis: There you go.

Bob:  You’ve heard that song how many times?  You wrote it Mother’s Day of ‘04?

Heidi:  I made him probably sing it to me that day many, numerous times.  So I’ve heard it a lot.

Bob:  He’s singing about you, isn’t he?

Heidi:  I know!  And sometimes, really when I enjoy it the most is when I’m completely by myself and I turn it on and it’s kind of “oh, wow, that’s about me!  That’s really amazing!”

Dennis:  Does that make you feel loved? 

Heidi:  Oh, yeah!  Absolutely. But this is the important thing.  The reason it means so much to me is because before he ever wrote this song, I felt it.  I knew I was loved.  I was living it. 

I was living those songs with him in our married life for a season of time and so I think I probably would have rolled my eyes at one point in our marriage, like “yeah, right,” you know?  But it was real.  I was at a place where I could just receive it and I just sort of bathed in it.  It’s just so wonderful.  It’s just so delightful.

Dennis:  Michael, you’re a long ways from the dark ages.  You were just crying.  Why did you cry when she said that?

Michael:  I just…  Just the blessing of the Lord, just to have somebody like her.  She’s been good for me.  God has really been merciful and I’m just so thankful for her.  It’s a gift.

Dennis:  Well, she is God’s gift to you.  I just want to applaud both of you for not quitting.  You’ve faced some pretty tough issues in your marriage and not just for a sprint, but for a pretty long season. 

I’m grateful that you’re modeling for a group of young people who have followed you and I hope will benefit from this recent album, Something About Us.   I’m grateful, Bob, for models of commitment.  We need more of that within the Christian community today.  Divorce has become the popular option.   It shouldn’t be our banner. 

Bob:  I ought to mention that the woman on the front cover and the back cover of the CD is Heidi.  Just in case anybody questions where you got that model to be on the front cover!  That’s your wife, right?

Michael:  It better be!

Bob:  That’s right, it better be!

Heidi:  That’s right!

Bob:  I’m thinking we should get you guys to strike that same pose when you are with us on the Love Like you Mean it Cruise in February this year. 

Michael and Heidi are going to be joining us as we head off Valentine’s Week.  We leave the morning of February 13th from Miami and head out in the Caribbean and get back on Friday, the 17th for our Love Like You Mean It Cruise.  Along with Michael and Heidi O’Brien, Sanctus Real is going to be there, Matthew West, the Annie Moses Band, Paul Overstreet, and Darlene McCoy.  Gary Thomas, the author of Sacred Marriage will be speaking, along with Voddie Baucham and, of course, Dennis and Barbara Rainey will be speaking as well.  I’ll be there speaking. 

We’re really looking forward to this year’s cruise.  In fact, I was talking with the team earlier this week.  I said, “How many have we got signed up?” and they said, “The boat’s about seventy percent, maybe a little more than that, sold.”  I said, “Well, before it’s done can we do something special for FamilyLife Today listeners?” and they said that was okay.  So here’s what we’re doing.

Again it’s Valentine’s week.  We leave February 13th and get back the 17th.  If you sign up to go with us you pay to attend and your spouse comes free.  We’ve got all the details available online at FamilyLife  There’s a link there to the Love Like You Mean It Cruise page.  You click on that and it will answer any of the questions you’ve got about the cruise, about who’s going to be there, about when we leave, when we got back. 

You may be celebrating a special anniversary or a special event coming up in 2012 and you want to take advantage of the cruise as a way to celebrate that.  Get more information online at or call us at 1;800-FL-Today and we can answer any questions you have. 

You have to register by next Monday if you want to take advantage of this special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners.  And you have to make sure, when you register, that you let us know that you listen to FamilyLife Today in order to take advantage of the special offer.  So again, get more information online at or call 1-800-FL-Today.  We can answer any questions you have or let you know how you can get signed up for the cruise.

And we want to make sure to take a minute to say thanks to those of you who support FamilyLifeToday.  You know the costs associated with producing and syndicating this radio program is significant.  Many of you help make it possible, not only in your local community, but throughout the country and around the world, on the internet, by supporting this ministry, either monthly or from time to time and we do appreciate that partnership.

This week if you’re able to make a donation to help support the ministry, we’d love to send you as, a way of saying thank you, a book by Dennis and Barbara Rainey on praying together as a couple.  This is a disciple that a lot of couples struggle with and Denis and Barbara address that struggle in the book Two Hearts Praying as One.

The book is our gift to you when you support the ministry this week with a donation.  If you’d like to receive the book, just type the word “HEARTS” in the key code box on the online donation form or just ask for the book on prayer when you make a donation over the phone at 1-800-FL-Today.  Again, we are grateful for your partnership with us here in the ministry of FamilyLifeToday.

We hope you can join us back tomorrow when we’re going to talk about what real love looks like.  In fact, Michael O’Brien’s going to be a part of tomorrow’s program in kind of a fun way.  You’ll hear him sing some songs you have never heard him sing before tomorrow, I guarantee you!  So I hope you can be back for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Help for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

*Song: Beautiful You

Artist: Michael O’Brien

Album: Something About Us, (c)2007 Miracle Productions

Song: One and Only

Artist: Michael O’Brien

Album: Something About Us, (c)2007 Miracle Productions

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